Boxwood: An Extreme Makeover!

Hallelujah -- my boxwood received its annual haircut yesterday. To accomplish this job, I rented a gas-powered hedge-trimmer from the local hardware store. I also rented a professional boxwood-barber, who groomed more than 300 shrubs in just four hours. Wanna see the before-and-after pictures? Here we go: Read more »

Perennials and Hardy Annuals I’ve Successfully Winter-Sowed

Happy day-after-Valentine's Day, everyone! The Hudson Valley looks and feels like Narnia right now, with snow, blowing snow, and wind-chill temperatures in the dangerous digits (-10°F to -20°F). Can you blame me for wanting to write Read more »

Perennials Which Require Cold Stratification

SPRING IS COMING, FOLKS! Consequently, if you haven't winter-sown your flowering perennials yet, you really need to get hopping. For certain seeds (like the cranesbill geranium 'Rozanne,' above) require alternating freezes and thaws, or "stratification" in order to germinate well. Here is a list of common perennials which need this yin and yang treatment: Read more »

Winter-Sowing 101

BELIEVE IT OR NOT, I start my summer garden in December and January, using a neat trick called “Winter-Sowing.” Winter-sowing is an outdoor method of seed germination (invented by Trudi Davidoff) which requires just two things: miniature greenhouses (made from recycled milk jugs) and Mother Nature. You can winter-sow your way to a beautiful garden, too...for pennies. Read more »

August Perfume: Clethra alnifolia

I WISH YOU COULD VISIT ME IN AUGUST, for this is when Clethra alnifolia 'Pink Spires' is in bloom. What a romantic plant! Butterflies, bees, and other beneficial insects are drawn to the sweet nectar of the shrub's fluffy, candle-like flowers. The flowers offer a strong, but never-cloying scent that recalls honeysuckle, rose, clove, and heliotrope. You'll find this North American native is extremely easy to grow: Read more »

Plant Propagation: Layering

LAYERING IS PROBABLY THE EASIEST -- and surprisingly, the least known -- method of plant propagation. I've used this technique to increase the weigela (above), forsythia, rhododendron, and other shrubs which bring beauty to my garden. With layering, the stem you wish to propagate remains attached to the parent plant. Consequently it receives nourishment until it grows its own set of roots. I'm layering my beloved flowering quince 'Cameo' today. Would you like to see the fun procedure? Read more »

Dividing Hostas

MY GARDENS START WITH A DREAM, NOT A PRICE-TAG. Take, for instance, the exuberant hosta-walk in my Woodland Garden. The walk, 50 feet in length, and pleasantly curved, features a lush edging of choice hostas -- at least 70 plants. How much did this project cost me? Very little, in fact. You see, from one purchased hosta, many can be obtained. Here's how: Read more »